A. Goodness knows how many inky embarrassments may lurk in these pages yet, but it is thanks to Dr Wiseman and all of those whom I am about to mention that there aren’t many hundreds more. I cannot begin to thank adequately those who helped me in the preparation of this book. I am especially indebted to the following, who were uniformly generous and kindly and showed the most heroic reserves of patience in answering one simple, endlessly repeated question: ‘I’m sorry, but can you explain that again?’
B. It may be that our universe is merely part of many larger universes, some in different dimensions, and the Big Bangs are going on all the time all over the place. Or it may be that space and time had some other forms altogether before the Big Bang – forms too alien for us to imagine – and that the Big Bang represents some sort of transition phase, where the universe went from a form we can’t understand to one we almost can.
C. This is a very popular Japanese form of poetry. It is brief, related to the season/nature, expresses a sense of awe or insight, written using concrete sense images and not abstractions, in the present tense. It is often written as three lines, of seventeen syllables arranged in a sequence 5, 7, 5, though not necessarily. A verbal snapshot, capturing the essence of a moment/scene. Some haiku are only a line or two. The idea is to capture a moment.
D. In April 1737, at age 52, Handel apparently suffered a stroke which disabled the use of four fingers on his right hand, preventing him from performing. In summer the disorder seemed at times to affect his understanding. Nobody expected that Handel would ever be able to perform again. But whether the affliction was rheumatism, a stroke or a nervous breakdown, he recovered remarkably quickly. To aid his recovery, Handel had travelled to Aachen, a spa in Germany. During six weeks he took long hot baths, and ended up playing the organ for a surprised audience.
E. When you sit down to dinner in a town house, your expectations will probably be governed by what you see around you. If you are in a small wooden building, dining in a small, poorly lit hall and being attended by your host’s wife, then your fare will probably be less tasty than a yeoman’s meal. If your host is an important merchant, on the other hand, and you are being entertained in the well-lit hall of a large house, then you can expect food far richer and more varied than the peasant could dream of offering.
F. Anyone who is an American citizen, at least 18 years of age, and is registered to vote may vote. Each state has the right to determine registration procedures. A number of civic groups, such as the League of Women Voters, are actively trying to get more people involved in the electoral process and have drives to register as many people as possible. Voter registration and voting among minorities has dramatically increased during the last thirty years, especially as a result of the Civil Rights Movement.
G. The Games have grown in scale to the point that nearly every nation is represented. Such growth has created numerous challenges, including boycotts, doping, bribery of officials, and terrorism. Every two years, the Olympics and its media exposure provide unknown athletes with the chance to attain national, and in particular cases, international fame. The Games also constitute a major opportunity for the host city and country to showcase itself to the world.
A. The novel covers an eventful period in American history and many of the characters are touched by national and international events. The issue of slavery split the country, and between 1861 and 1865 the northern and southern states were engaged in a bloody civil war. After the war ended, the country recovered and there was a period of rapid economic growth. Settlers moved west to build new farms and adopted new mechanical methods of farming. The railroads expanded and opened up new production areas and markets. The United States soon became the world’s leading agricultural producer.
B. From the landing at Plymouth Rock to today, educators and community members have debated over the best way that government should fulfill its responsibility to educate citizens. Underlying these debates are three central questions: What is the purpose of a public education? Who is to receive the educational services provided by the public? And, how does government ensure the quality of these educational services? In various forms, these questions lay beneath all educational changes and reform measures in American history.
C. In Europe during the Middle Ages and much of the Early Modern period, the main purpose of schools (as opposed to universities) was to teach the Latin language. This led to the term grammar school, which in the United States informally refers to a primary school, but in the United Kingdom means a school that selects entrants based on ability or aptitude. Following this, the school curriculum has gradually broadened to include literacy in the vernacular language as well as technical, artistic, scientific and practical subjects.
D. A large number of people depend directly or indirectly on the tobacco business. Small shops receive a large part of their income from the sale of cigarettes, and may be forced to close if cigarettes are made illegal. There are also many others who depend on this market. Tobacco is largely grown in warm countries, with undeveloped economies. A complete ban on cigarettes would force farmers to change the crops that they grow, and this is not something that can be carried out quickly. Poor farmers may not be able to feed their families without the income from tobacco.
E. The number of people suffering from respiratory illness in the countryside was significantly lower in the past than it is today. This supported by Michael J. Brown’s empirical research and by the statistics collected by the Bureau of Information over a 50-year period. It is, however, impossible to identify a direct relation of cause and effect between the increased use of pesticides and the rise in the number of breathing problems, as so many other factors in people’s lifestyle have also changed.
F. The coffee served in the coffee houses wasn’t necessarily very good coffee. Because of the way coffee was taxed in Britain, the practice was to brew it in large batches, store it cold in barrels and reheat it a little at a time for serving. So coffee’s appeal in Britain was less to do with its being a quality beverage than a social lubricant. People went to coffee houses to meet people of shared interests, to gossip, read the latest journals and newspapers – a brand-new word and concept in the 1660s – and exchange information of value to their lives and business.
G. Christianity was always curiously ill at ease with cleanliness, and early on developed an odd tradition of equating holiness with dirtiness. When St. Thomas a Becket died in 1170, those who laid him out noted approvingly that his undergarments were ‘seething with lice’. Throughout the medieval period, an almost sure-fire way to earn lasting honour was to take a vow not to wash. Many people walked from England to the Holy Land, but when a monk named Godric did it without getting wet even once he became, all but inevitably, St. Godric.
A. There are a lot of traditions connected with Christmas but perhaps the most important one is the giving of presents. Family members wrap up their gifts and leave them at the bottom of the Christmas tree to be found on Christmas morning. Children leave a long sock or stocking at the end of their beds on Christmas Eve, 24th December, hoping that Father Christmas will come down the chimney during the night and bring them small presents, fruit and nuts.
B. At some time on Christmas day the family will sit down to a big turkey dinner followed by Christmas pudding or Christmas cake. As for Christmas cake, heavy and overfilling it is not to everybody’s taste. To make things worse, it takes weeks to make and when it is ready it can last until Easter, so if you don’t like it, you have to try and eat some at Christmas to avoid being haunted by it months after.
C. Officially Christmas and New Year celebrations run from the 24th of December to the 2nd of January. However, for many Brits the Christmas marathon starts as early as the beginning of October with the first festive adverts on TV. The idea of Christmas shopping is that you spend as much money as you can on anything you cast your eyes on, preferably something neither you nor your family or friends will ever use. An average British family spends 670 pounds or more around the Christmas period.
D. Long live Christmas! -say pickpockets, car thieves and burglars getting their share of Christmas shopping. Every year thousands of people get their wallets stolen in overcrowded shops and streets. Lots of lovely presents, which somebody spent so much time and money on, disappear without a trace when cars and homes are broken into. As much as 9% of people experience a burglary in December.
E. Who doesn’t want to have a white Christmas? Playing snowballs and making a snowman with the whole family on Christmas Day is most people’s dream (apart from the countries like Australia that celebrate Christmas in summer, on the beach). This dream is more likely to come true in northern countries like Russia, but for the British people it’s different. Although it’s not uncommon to get some snow in Scotland and northern England, the rest of Britain is normally only lucky enough to get some frost. In most cases the weather is wet and gloomy.
F. New year is a time for celebrating and making a new start in life. In Britain many people make New Year’s resolutions. This involves people promising themselves that they will improve their behaviour in some way, by giving up bad habits. People might decide to give up smoking, for example, or to go on a diet. These promises are often broken in the first few days of the New Year, however!
G. Christmas is celebrated on the 25th of December. For most families, this is the most important festival of the year. On this day many people are travelling home to be with their families. Most houses are decorated with brightly-coloured paper or holly, and there is usually a Christmas tree in the corner of the front room. Unfortunately, not all families get on well together. As it is a well-known fact, some magazines publish tips on how to cope with Christmas, such as yoga, meditation or holidays abroad.
A. It’s strange that the differences in Britain itself are greater than those between Britain and other English-speaking countries. For a Londoner, it’s easier to understand an American than a Cockney. Cockney has a pronunciation, accent and vocabulary unlike any other dialect. Cockney speech is famous for its rhyming slang. A word is replaced by a phrase or a person’s name which rhymes with it.
B. Other languages absorb English words too, often giving them new forms and meanings. So many Japanese, French, Spanish and Germans mix English words with their mother tongues that the resulting hybrids are called Japlish, Franglais, Spanglish and Denglish, In Japanese, for example, there is a verb Makudonaru, to eat at McDonald’s.
C. Have you ever wondered why the English language has different words for animals and meat? When William the Conqueror invaded England in 1066, French became the official language of the court. The English would look after the animals and cook the meat, still calling the animals pig, sheep and cow. The Normans, when they saw the cooked meat arrive at their table, would use French words – pork, mutton and beef.
D. English is mixing with other languages around the world. It’s probably the biggest borrower. Words newly coined or in vogue in one language are very often added to English as well. There are words from 120 languages in its vocabulary, including Arabic, French, German, Greek, Italian, Russian, Spanish and Turkish. 70 per cent of the English vocabulary are loan words and only 30 per cent of the words are native.
E. Have you ever wondered how many people speak English? It’s around 400 million people. Geographically, English is the most wide-spread language on earth, and it’s second only to Chinese in the number of people who speak it. It’s spoken in the British Isles, the USA, Australia, New Zealand and much of Canada and South Africa. English is also a second language of another 300 million people living in more than 60 countries.
F. In Shakespeare’s time only a few million people spoke English. All of them lived in what is now Great Britain. Through the centuries, as a result of various historical events, English spread throughout the world. There were only 30,000 words in Old English. Modern English has the largest vocabulary in the world – more than 600,000 words.
G. In the English language blackboards can be green or white, and blackberries are green and then red before they are ripe. There is no egg in eggplant, neither mush nor room in mushroom, neither pine nor apple in pineapple, no ham in hamburger. Why is it that a king rules a kingdom but a queen doesn’t rule a queendom? If the plural of tooth is teeth, shouldn’t the plural of booth be beeth? And in what other language can your nose run?
A. Her Majesty’s Government, in spite of its name, derives its authority and power from its party representation in Parliament. Parliament is housed in the Palace of Westminster, once a home of the monarchy. Like the monarchy, Parliament is an ancient institution, dating from the middle of the thirteenth century. Parliament is the seat of British democracy, but it is perhaps valuable to remember that while the House of Lords was created in order to provide a council of the nobility for the king, the Commons were summoned originally in order to provide the king with money.
B. The reigning monarch is not only head of state but symbol of the unity of the nation. The monarchy is Britain’s oldest secular institution, its continuity for over a thousand years broken only once by a republic that lasted a mere eleven years (1649—60). The monarchy is hereditary, the succession passing automatically to the oldest male child, or in the absence of males to the oldest female offspring of the monarch. In law the monarch is head of the executive and of the judiciary, head of the Church of England, and commander-in-chief of the armed forces.
C. The dynamic power of Parliament lies in its lower chamber. Of its 650 members, 523 represent constituencies in England, 38 in Wales, 72 in Scotland and 17 in Northern Ireland. There are only seats in the Commons debating chamber for 370 members, but except on matters of great interest, it is unusual for all members to be present at any one time. Many MPs find themselves in other rooms of the Commons, participating in a variety of committees and meetings necessary for an effective parliamentary process.
D. Britain is a democracy, yet its people are not, as one might expect in a democracy, constitutionally in control of the state. The constitutional situation is an apparently contradictory one. As a result of a historical process the people of Britain are subjects of the Crown, accepting the Queen as the head of the state. Yet even the Queen is not sovereign in any substantial sense since she receives her authority from Parliament, and is subject to its direction in almost all matters. This curious situation came about as a result of a long struggle for power between the Crown and Parliament during the sixteenth and the seventeenth centuries.
E. Her Majesty’s Government governs in the name of the Queen, and its hub, Downing Street, lies in Whitehall, a short walk from Parliament. Following a general election, the Queen invites the leader of the majority party represented in the Commons, to form a government on her behalf. Government ministers are invariably members of the House of Commons, but infrequently members of the House of Lords are appointed. All government members continue to represent “constituencies” which elected them.
F. Each parliamentary session begins with the “State Opening of Parliament”, a ceremonial occasion in which the Queen proceeds from Buckingham Palace to the Palace of Westminster where she delivers the Queen’s Speech from her throne in the House of Lords. Her speech is drafted by her government, and describes what the government intends to implement during the forthcoming session. Leading members of the Commons may hear the speech from the far end of the chamber, but are not allowed to enter the House of Lords.
G. The upper chamber of Parliament is not democratic in any sense at all. It consists of four categories of peer. The majority are hereditary peers, a total of almost 800, but of whom only about half take an active interest in the affairs of the state. A smaller number, between 350 and 400, are “life” peers – an idea introduced in 1958 to elevate to the peerage certain people who rendered political or public service to the nation. The purpose was not only to honour but also to enhance the quality of business done in the Lords.
A. The English immigrants who settled on America’s northern seacoast, appropriately called New England, came in order to practice their religion freely. They were either Englishmen who wanted to reform the Church of England or people who wanted to have an entirely new church. These two groups combined, especially in what became Massachusetts, came to be known as "Puritans", so named after those who wished to "purify" the Church of England.
B. John provoked the English barons into revolt, though their economic difficulties through high inflation were not his fault. Civil war broke out, and John was forced to sign the document later known as Magna Carta. Magna Carta was the first document forced onto a King of England by a group of his subjects, the feudal barons, in an attempt to limit his powers by law and protect their privileges. It provided redress of grievances, but later ages took it as a statement of civil liberties.
C. More important than packing your bag full of money, pack a bag full of patience and curiosity. There's no such thing as a bad trip, just good travel stories to tell back home. Always travel with a smile and remember that you're the one with the strange customs visiting someone else's country. And, finally, the more time you spend coming to understand the ways of others, the more you'll understand yourself. The journey abroad reflects the one within – the most unknown and foreign and unmapped terra incognita.
D. Architecture is the art and the technique of building, employed to fulfill the practical and expressive requirements of civilized people. Almost every settled society that possesses the techniques for building produces architecture. It is necessary in all but the simplest cultures; without it, man is confined to a primitive struggle with the elements; with it, he has not only a defense against the natural environment but also the benefits of a human environment, a prerequisite for and a symbol of the development of civilized institutions.
E. In Europe, May Day started out as a nice pagan holiday to celebrate the spring planting, then turned into a holiday of love (complete with twirling ribbons around a Maypole). It began its metamorphosis into a working class holiday at the end of the 19th century – in memory of a workers' demonstration in Chicago (calling, among other things, for an eight-hour working day), which ended in bloodshed. The idea of decent working conditions caught on with the Russian comrades. "Here's to the eight-hour working day!", an early May Day pamphlet read.
F. Dinner finally became en evening meal in the 1850s. As the distance between breakfast and dinner widened, it became necessary to create a smaller meal around the middle of the day, for which the world ‘luncheon’ was appropriated. ‘Luncheon’ originally signified a lump or portion. In 1755 Samuel Johnson was still defining it as a quantity of food – ‘as much food as one’s hand can hold’ – and only slowly over the next century did it come to signify, in refined circles at least, the middle meal of the day.
G. The evolution of the Olympic Movement during the 20th and 21st centuries has resulted in several changes to the Olympic Games. Some of these adjustments include the creation of the Winter Games for ice and winter sports, the Paralympic Games for athletes with a physical disability, and the Youth Olympic Games for teenage athletes. The International Olympic Committee has had to adapt to the varying economic, political, and technological realities of the 20th century.